Weaning can be a daunting prospect for new parents (and for those of us who’ve done it before!) It feels like you’ve only just got into your groove with breast or bottle-feeding and suddenly you have to begin a whole new adventure of introducing your baby to the world of solid foods.
The current advice by the World Health Organisation recommends exclusive breastfeeding until 4 months, with the thinking being that your baby’s digestive system isn’t equipped to deal with solid foods before this time. Your baby should be able to sit-up unaided and doesn’t automatically “push” a spoon or food out from their mouth with their tongue before embarking on weaning, whatever their age.
It is also important to remember that milk (either breast or formula) is still the main source of nutrients for your baby at this early weaning stage and so solid food should be initially offered to them after one of their milk feeds. The mid-morning feed is usually recommended to begin with, as both you and baby should be feeling rested and baby should hopefully be hungry!
Try to remember that in the initial stages of weaning you are just getting your baby used to the different tastes and textures of food, so try not to worry too much if they don’t actually eat very much. Lay a mat down underneath your highchair, make sure you’re wearing old clothes you don’t mind getting messy and just start experimenting with different foods. It’s best to start with pureed fruits and vegetables to begin with, try not to just start with fruit as your baby has a preference for sweet tastes and this may make it harder to introduce less sweet foods later down the line. Some good and easy ideas for this stage are steamed and pureed sweet potato, mashed avocado and banana, pureed pumpkin and organic baby rice.
It’s best to just introduce one new food a day so you can see if your baby has any sort of reaction to it (look out for rashes, an upset tummy/diarrhoea). Once you’ve established two or more foods are ok you can begin mixing them together. Gradually, as your baby begins to eat more you can begin to reduce the amount of milk he or she has mid-morning along with looking to introduce some solid foods in the evening (around 5/6pm) and then in the morning, with the idea of eventually getting them eating 3 meals a day. Some people prefer to follow a specific pattern for doing this (see Gina Ford’s “The Contented Little Baby Book of Weaning”), whilst others prefer a more un-structured route, taking feedback from baby and going at their pace. There’s no right or wrong, stick to whatever works for you and your baby, just try to make mealtimes as fun and stress-free as possible for both of you!
Baby-led weaning is an option many parents try, where instead of feeding your baby specific foods pureed or mashed, they are instead given pieces of food to play around with and try (for example, a piece of cooked carrot or parsnip). You can also combine this with purees, giving your little one a piece of banana whilst at the same time feeding them mashed banana.
Here are a couple of easy recipes for purees we’ve tried out when we were weaning our little ones that went down a treat. Hopefully your baby will love them too!
Pureed apple and apricot.
1 apple (we love Pink Ladies but any eating apple will do)
1 cup of unsulphured dried apricots
Leave the apricots just covered in water overnight to soak.
In the morning put the apricots and the water in a saucepan and heat gently for about 15/20 minutes until the apricots are soft.
While the apricots are heating peel, core and chop the apple before placing it in a blender.
Once the apricots are soft add them to the blender with the apple and blend until smooth.
Serve warm but not hot.
Any excess puree can be frozen for up to 3 months.
Sweet potato and avocado
1 small sweet potato
½ ripe avocado
Peel and cut the sweet potato into cubes and steam until soft.
Slice the avocado into cubes and place in a blender with a small amount of water or unsweetened almond milk.
Add the soft sweet potato to the blender and blend until smooth (add more water/almond milk if necessary).
Serve warm but not hot.
Not suitable for freezing.
Check out some of our great weaning bowls and spoons here!